Amanda Lightsey believes in families.
“Our primary goal with families is to be successful and safe, and to prevent child abuse and neglect. We also promote self-sufficiency. We have programs for everyone in the family,” said Lightsey, executive director of Tuscaloosa’s One Place. “One is our after-school program, where they provide enrichment activities and a meal for the children. They also receive one-on-one mentoring from University of Alabama students.”
Lightsey has seen students’ grades improve and families coming together to take on different challenges. Specific programs are also available for adults.
“Under the Parent Project, we teach adults about self-development, parenting and how to deal with strong-willed teenagers. The youth come as well and learn problem-solving skills and stress management. We do in-home visitation so the family can stay together, and we also do supervised visitation,” Lightsey said.
Tuscaloosa’s One Place has a Fatherhood Program, where they work with noncustodial fathers to help them build relationships with their children. The Work Force Program helps those fathers with resume preparation and GED exams, as well as job searches.
Tuscaloosa’s One Place receives court referrals and works with people from other organizations and agencies. COVID-19 has affected how Tuscaloosa’s One Place staff serves clients.
“The needs are greater than they’ve ever been. Stress levels have gone up, and youth violence has gone up. We try to maintain our levels of service. We are doing a lot of Zoom meetings, and we’re still providing wonderful help for families and youth,” Lightsey said.
Enrollment has doubled through Zoom because any family can attend despite transportation barriers they might have had in the past.
Lightsey depends on funding from donors and foundations to accomplish the mission of Tuscaloosa’s One Place. The Alabama Power Foundation has been a long-time partner.
“We have been here for 21 years, and the Alabama Power Foundation has been there for most of those years,” she said. “We have received funding for many of our programs, and support for our fundraisers like the Tinsel Trail that we launch before Thanksgiving. We will have over 200 trees lit up and decorated. Alabama Power Foundation always supports us with that and other programs.”
The social justice movement sweeping across the country has affected Tuscaloosa’s One Place staff members and how they help people.
“The social justice movement has made us more aware. We want to be inclusive of everyone, and we need to reach all populations and all types of families,” Lightsey said. “When we meet with families, we first talk about COVID-19, then we talk about social justice. They are experiencing the movement firsthand.”
On a personal level, Lightsey has reveled in her service with Tuscaloosa’s One Place.
“I am very fortunate to be able to do what I do with Tuscaloosa’s One Place. When you find your purpose in life and be able to live it every day, that’s huge. Getting to see families celebrate their achievements means the world to me, and gives me the motivation to keep going,” Lightsey said. “Great things are possible for all families.”
For more information, please visit, www.tuscaloosaoneplace.org.
Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at [email protected].